Thursday, May 17, 2012

Swan Lake: Live!

The Bolshoi Ballet is on the Toronto leg of their North American tour and Paul snagged us a couple of tickets. I've never attended a "real" ballet before (dance recitals, including my own, don't count), so I was super excited to finally get to see one in person.

The good: The costumes were breathtaking. I felt a lump in my throat within minutes of the curtain rising, that's how quickly it moved me to tears. The tutus were sumptuously embroidered with frothy layers of candy-coloured tulle and the dancers splayed their legs in the air like they weighed nothing at all. (Paul and I tried imitating their impossible leaps while walking the dog.) Everything was perfect except ...

The bad: I was disappointed by the director's decision to use blue LED lights during the swan maiden sequences. Not only did the lack of contrast tire out my eyes, but they strobed every time the swans were re-introduced so the dancers had a noticeable red "shadow" around them, like you were looking through 3D glasses.  The blue also flattened the stage so it was difficult to distinguish the dancers and follow what they were doing, since they were all wearing white and the background was a black translucent mesh illustration. In other performances I've seen on TV and elsewhere, the lights did not change the dancers' skin tone and costume.

I was also a little disappointed by the ballerina playing Odette/Odile. She didn't have the precision I expected from the Bolshoi, like current principal dancer Svetlana Zakharova (below):

Granted, Svetlana's abilities are unmatched, but I shook my head a little when my swan tried to hold her position en pointe and kept wobbling to stay upright. I admit I can't even come close to doing what these ladies do, but I also didn't get dressed up to see the world renowned ballet company showcase poor balance.

I mean, check out Svetlana playing the black swan:

The video quality's not great, but you can see the precision in each move. What I saw today was someone who looked very tired. Although people shouted in approval when she completed the infamous 32 fouettés, again I couldn't help noticing the wobbling. I was expecting more of this:

Moral of the story: Blue lights make me grumpy!!!

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